Last May, dramatic media major Kevin Iso had no idea he would be hanging out with the creator and stars of AMC’s Breaking Bad at the 2013 Austin Film Festival. His script, UnWed, was selected as a finalist for the festival. Written as part of a screenwriting course with TLU Assistant Professor of Dramatic Media Shannon Ivey, UnWed is the story of a young Muslim who starts throwing parties for divorcees because of his own existential reasons.
“His mom is more religious than he is and plans weddings and forbids him from doing it,” Iso ’13 said. “I originally wrote it for a grade in Shannon’s screenplay class, but I really liked the idea and kept adding to it afterwards.”
Initially, Iso said, the idea came to him as a comedy sketch and he eventually realized the concept worked better as a movie given the deeper meaning he was aiming to share.
“By deeper I mean that our view of marriage is typically liberal and we view Middle Eastern culture as too restrictive,” Iso said. “But, we have a high divorce rate ourselves so it’s not like we have the answer to anything. I’m not saying that predetermined marriage is the solution either. I just think a liberal view on marriage creates its own problems.”
At first, Iso said, he wasn’t aware of just how special it was to be asked to participate in the AFF until Ivey, his scriptwriting professor, told him what an honor it is.
“I think 100 out of 1600 submissions were chosen,” Iso said. “I met a lot of people and got notes on my script, so it was really beneficial. I met Giancarlo Esposito who played Gus Fring on Breaking Bad. He looked scary. The panels with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan were exciting to go to.”
He also joked about meeting Academy Award-winning director Luke Matheny who won an Oscar in 2011 for his live action short film God of Love.
“I recognized him and told him I downloaded it illegally because I’m broke,” Iso said. “It was also kind of weird because other than local high school students, I was one of the youngest people there.”
Ivey, president of Theatre For Change—a San Antonio-based nonprofit organization made up of dramatic media artists committed to linking the stories inherent within theatre and film to the messages of nonprofit organizations, saw her student’s coursework transform into an AFF selection.
"Kevin is a wickedly creative artist who marches to the beat of his own drum; which is why, I have no doubt, he will be successful,” said Ivey. “I was so proud to watch him shine at The Austin Film Festival with a script that he penned during our scriptwriting seminar class. It was such a cool moment."
About Austin Film Festival:
Founded in 1993, Austin Film Festival (AFF) was the first organization of its kind to focus on the writers’ creative contribution to film. AFF is known for its annual October Austin Film Festival & Conference. The Film Festival & Conference was the first event of its kind to take the lead in bringing professional and amateur screenwriters (and now filmmakers) together to celebrate the role of the screenplay in filmmaking and discuss the considerable creative possibilities of writing for film and television. Past participants of the Festival & Conference include Sydney Pollack, Wes Anderson, Joel and Ethan Coen, Russell Crowe, Barry Levinson, Darren Star, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, John Landis, Claire Danes, Oliver Stone, Sandra Bullock, Jason Schwartzman, Harold Ramis and Owen Wilson.